So, ten days in India: cold, fascinating, rugged, endearing, tiring, fun.
Cold - my parents live up in the north of India at the base of the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. So January is very cold. I slept in socks, long undearwear, a woollen spencer, a long-sleeve t-shirt and then flannel pjs over all of that and some nights I wore a beanie for good measure. I don't think it is so much that the weather is extreme - they are down in the valley so they don't get snow - but that the heating that we take for granted in winter is absent and the housing is mainly large concrete bunkers that operate like a fridge. I never went around the house with bare feet or just socks. The concrete floors were like ice and you felt it creeping up your ankles as soon as your little toes touch the ground.
Fascinating - I enjoyed the sights and sounds and diversions of being in a totally different place. Someone asked my parents before I came if they thought I'd be shocked by India. The answer is, no, I wasn't. In many ways it was very much like my own childhood memories: noisy streets, people and rubbish everywhere, rough streets, auto-rickshaws which are very much like what we got around in, motorbikes, street dogs.... and so on. So the infrastructure was similar although the culture was different. It's fun to learn things and try and work out how to operate in a new place. I love the tricks and idiosyncrasies that you uncover as you learn how people live, love and work in a different environment.
Walking up the street to get to the main road
Endearing - I can understand why they love the place. The campus they are part of is wonderful. Full of delightful people you can't help but fall in love with and full of meaningful, engaging and purposeful work. They are truly round pegs in round holes there. They are surrounded by people who obviously love them to bits and busy each day with kingdom work. I am not the least bit puzzled as to why they've stayed 15 years.
Chocolate Corner - one of Mum's favourite shops.
You just need to know before you go that it is not on a corner
and chocolate is not its primary business.
Tiring - sooooo cold. It was a bit exhausting. And there was the constant meeting of new people. And the diving in to deep conversations with the short amount of time available meant that I felt pretty spent at the end of each day. Getting your head around how you do even ordinary things in a totally different environment and being always on alert for correct manners and conversation is tiring too. Also... soooooo cold.
The horn = indispensable road safety item.
Fun - I am glad I went. I have certainly not 'caught the travel bug'. I was very glad to see my own bed and *carpet* (oh the joy) again. But I did have a lot of fun while I was there. An Australian friend who has been working at the campus for a year took me out on her motor scooter one afternoon. There I was, zipping along in the frosty air 9 km up the mountain, hanging on to the back of the scooter as we dodged handcarts, street dogs, crazy auto-drivers and slow moving pedestrians, without a helmet and not a care in the world! Shopping at the main bazaar was fun. Being invited to lunch at various houses was great because I got to wander down lanes and spend time in family homes rather than just look on from the outside.
I wish we had this shop near home. I could do with fewer problems.
Not so convinced about the name of this shop, however.
But it is LOVELY to be home. I am so grateful to God for safety and good health while I was away. And so thankful to be home. Did I mention home?